He has also worked on the hypothalamic–pituitary growth hormone axis in fibromyalgia and enteric pathogens–related reactive arthritis. He’s written three books and more than 75 peer-reviewed articles. At the ACR, he has served on committees overseeing the planning of the organization’s annual meeting and continues to serve on the abstract selection committee. He is also a member of the new ARHP Membership and Nomination Committee, which seeks to get more rheumatologists involved in the association and its member committees.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2011
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Q: Given that you are more accustomed to planning annual meetings and helping determine who wins these awards each year, what does the honor mean to you?
A: It was humbling that whatever little work I did on this over the last four years, they really appreciated it. I’ve never had anything like this in my career. It’s very humbling. Being involved in the annual planning meeting committee … you’re putting the spotlight on the shining stars of rheumatology.
Q: You have worked on a web-based initiative to train nurse practitioners and physician assistants to focus on rheumatology. Why?
A: Rheumatology is an extremely multidisciplinary specialty in the sense we are always dependent on other physicians, nurse practitioners, and others. They are playing a more and more important role and ACR recognizes this. There is a real shortage of rheumatologists and we think the nurse practitioners and physician assistants will be a big help in this.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing the field?
A: The biggest challenge I see is our success. Our success in some ways is threatening our specialty. Teams have become so specialized … the quantum leaps they made, the paradigm shifts in the way we manage diseases. The biggest threat is the lack of manpower.
ARHP Addie ThomasService Award
Debra Bancroft Rizzo, RN, MSN, APNP, FNP-C
Nurse Practitioner, Division of Rheumatology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Background: Debra Rizzo has been a volunteer for rheumatologic causes for the 30 years she’s been in the field. She earned her degree as a registered nurse from Columbia Hospital School of Nursing in Milwaukee in 1981 and, six years later, added a bachelor of science in nursing from Carroll University in Milwaukee. Early in her career, she worked with former ARHP President Janice Smith Pigg, a relationship that instilled early on the value of volunteerism. Rizzo recently joined the University of Michigan system. She helped develop the ARHP’s first online training program for nurse practitioners and physician assistants and is the scientific editor for the first revision of the program, now called the Advanced Rheumatology Course. Rizzo has authored multiple chapters on rheumatology for nursing curricula.